The Hays Code was a censorship code in the United States which was eventualy replaced by actual age ratings. The code was not an age rating system, basically, all films had to be basically no more than PG-rated.

The earliest information I could find was about the British Board of Film Censors, later "Censors" would be replaced by "Classification." According to Wikipedia, "The UK's film ratings are decided by the British Board of Film Classification and have been since 1912. Previously, there were no agreed rating standards, and local councils imposed their own – often differing – conditions or restrictions."

Beyond what these conditions or restrictions were or how they differed, were there age ratings for things like stage plays? Was the United Kingdom or Ireland, which later created the "Irish Film Censor's Office," the first countries to conceive of age ratings? (Although I was told the idea of age restrictions dates back to Plato's Republic.)

Why base them on the age of a person instead of merely notifying that the film may contain some loathsome content?

Even with age ratings in place, there would be censorship that would be quite strict by modern standards, for example, I don't think you would have been allowed to say the F-bomb.

By the way, I intend this question to focus on either fictional entertainment or documentaries. Things like novels, movies, stage plays, and so on.

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    What political aspects? I associate politics with governments.
    – RakeALeaf
    Jan 13 at 5:37
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    Some clarification is needed here as to precisely what you are looking for. Are you limiting this to local or national government-mandated restrictions? When you say "things like stage plays", are you excluding other forms of entertainment? The idea of age-based restrictions on access to plays can be dated back to Plato, and some teachers in the 16th century were restricting children's exposure to texts deemed 'indecent'. Jan 13 at 7:12
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    Plato's 'Republic', but this was just the idea of age-based restrictions. There doesn't seem to be any evidence that Greek theatre actually imposed age limits (but our evidence is limited - we don't even know if women and slaves were permitted). Jan 14 at 2:19
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    How do you distinguish age ratings from privileges of adulthood? After all, things like disposition of property and ability to hold various government offices have been age-rated for well over 2000 years. Both of these, of course, could be intensely related to entertainment. (Think of cavorting with courtesans in the first case and think of the responsibilities of an aedile in the second.)
    – C Monsour
    Jan 14 at 3:41
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    @RakeALeaf - please update the question with the clarifications you've provided in comments. People will see a long comment string, assume that the question is unclear and then move on.
    – MCW
    Jan 14 at 14:05

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